Micro-Entreprise Business in France

  1. What is a Micro-Entrepreneur?
  2. Business Registration
  3. Tax Regimes
  4. Business Rates
  5. Status of Spouse
  6. Should You elect for Micro-Entreprise Status?
  7. VAT
  8. Payment of Taxes and Social Insurance
  9. Business Accounting
  10. Running a Chambre d'Hote
  11. Multiple Business Activities

2. Business Registration

2.1. Business Registration Centres

Until 2015 the simplicity of the formalities of business creation for micro-entrepreneurs was one of the guiding design principles of this business status.

All that was required was to go to the official government website and complete the on-line application form for inclusion on to the Registre National des Entreprises (RNE), the national business register.

Once completed (including copy passport) you would be given a business number and you could start your business. No fees and no fuss.

In recent years that process has been replaced by the need to register with an official business registration centre, and incorporation on the trade and companies register, a process that requires greater effort and a cash payment.

The immatriculation process, as it is called, has been introduced directly as a result of pressure from the building trades associations, who considered that there were not enough controls on micro-entrepreneurs.

The registration centre (Centre de Formalités des Entreprises - CFE) and trade/companies register depends on the nature of your activity, as follows:

Activity Centre Register
Artisan Chambre de Métiers et de l’Artisanat (CMA) Registre du Métiers (RM)
Commercial Sales Chambre du Commerce et de l'Industrie (CCI) Registre du Commerce (RCS)
Libérale URSSAF Only applicable for company registration - RCS
Sales Agent Tribunal de Commerce (Greffe) Registre Spécial des Agents Commerciaux

If you are in one of the artistic professions (painter, sculptor etc) then you will to contact with La Maison Des Artistes, whilst authors will need to make contact with AGESSA, although both need to also register as a business with URSSAF. We wrote an article in our Newsletter concerning affiliation to one of these insurance regimes, which you can read at Becoming An Artist or Author in France. Strictly speaking, you cannot have micro-entrepreneur status, but it will depend on how you define your activity!

The registration process can be done on-line at lautoentrepreneur.fr for artisans and commercial sales activities, or at cfe.urssaf.fr for the professions libérales and artists and authors. The form to complete is similar for all activities.

In practice, many will need to actually do it manually, with a visit to the local registration centre, which we wholeheartedly recommend. There are parts of the form which are rather confusing to the uninitiated.

Although formally speaking some activities require to be registered through the Greffe (such as landlords of furnished accommodation) in practice many local Chambres de Commerce are willing to undertake the formalities, with the whole process then signed off by the Greffe.

Indeed, although the quality of service does vary, there are good reasons to become acquainted with your business registration centre, as they may be able to offer you more general advice. In particular, they may be able to advise you on financial assistance that may be available for new business creation, such as grants, loans and tax relief.

Make sure you take with you passport, birth certificate, marriage certificate, proof of address and copy qualifications and/or proof of experience.

If you seek assistance in the registration process, including identification of your business category, you can contact us at editor@french-property.com and we will endeavour to assist. We can also arrange for the whole process to be undertaken on a professional basis, although a modest charge would then be payable.

2.2. Qualifications

Some business activities/professions are 'regulated', with controls on access into a profession, or activity.

Foremost of these are some of the professions libérales, but numerous other business activities require appropriate authorisation before you can start the business.

In most cases the authorisation required may be little more than registration with the Chambre de Commerce/Metiers, or in some cases with the prefecture eg, estate agents, brocantes.

In other cases additional criteria may apply, such as the absence of criminal convictions, the need for a licence, or the need for an appropriate qualification and/or experience.

These business activities include bars, restaurants and hotels, gîtes, camp sites, estate agency, driving schools, travel agent, hairdressing, transport business, domestic home care services and security services.

However, do not assume that because they are 'regulated' it is difficult to get into these professions as the entry requirements and procedures vary.

This does not necessarily mean you are allowed to do all aspects of work within that profession. Thus, a plumber could not legally fit gas appliances without appropriate French certification.

You also need to ensure that an insurer would be willing to offer you professional indemnity insurance.

Practice does vary between the Chambres de Metiers but, at most, provided you can demonstrate some basic level of certificated training, or at least three years experience in the relevant building trade, you can set yourself up in business.

If you hold appropriate qualifications you will normally be be asked to get them translated and certified by a professional translator, although, strictly speaking, under EU regulations you are not obliged to do this.

If you have no qualifications you would be well advised to bring testimonials, (translated into French and certified by a professional translator), which you can provide to the Chambre at the time of your registration.

2.3. Costs

Although in theory registration is free of charge, a number of the centres impose a fee for assistance with the formalities. The Greffe do impose an obligatory token charge.

If you happen to be registering as a trade activity you will also be required to attend a training course lasting 30 hours on running a business, organised by the chambre, which will cost around €200+.

However, it is not too difficult to obtain exemption from this course if you are an EEA national and you can provide evidence of at least three years business experience in a the trade activity, or a relevant qualification.

Thus, Article 2 of Loi no 82-1091 23 décembre 1982 Relative a la formation professionelle des artisans states:

Pour s'établir en France, un professionnel qualifié ressortissant d'un Etat membre de la Communauté européenne ou d'un autre Etat partie à l'accord sur l'Espace économique européen est dispensé de suivre le stage prévu au premier alinéa. Un décret en Conseil d'Etat définit les conditions dans lesquelles, si l'examen des qualifications professionnelles attestées par le professionnel fait apparaître des différences substantielles au regard des qualifications requises pour la direction d'une entreprise artisanale, l'autorité compétente peut exiger que le demandeur se soumette à une épreuve d'aptitude ou un stage d'adaptation, à son choix.

Not all chambres make it clear that this right of exemption exists, as they prefer the fee they obtain for training, so you may need to spell out to them the relevant law.

Next: Micro-Entrepreneur Tax Regimes

Back: What is a Micro-Entrepreneur?

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